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Morning Glory: What does 'Hellscape' mean?

OpinionMorning Glory: What does 'Hellscape' mean?

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“Hellscape” is a dramatic word.  
 
It is the description of what awaits the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of the People’s Republic of China if it is ordered to invade Taiwan by Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.  
 
We know this because Admiral Samuel Paparo, USN, is the big boss of the Pentagon’s “Pacific Command,” and Paparo told us this through The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin: “Hellscape” is the description of the mission for the American military and its allies if China attempts to invade Taiwan.  

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Among Pacific Command’s many missions is to deter China from doing just that. Given the CCP’s massive investment in ship and submarine building and its repeated rehearsal of that invasion and its past cyber-attacks on our military, Paparo and everyone under his command has their work cut out for them: How to create a “Hellscape?”  

Taiwan navy ship launches missile during drill

Taiwan would get swarmed by any Chinese attack. The US Navy has plans to stop that. FILE: Taiwanese navy launches a US-made Standard missile from a frigate during the annual Han Kuang Drill, on the sea near the Suao navy harbor in Yilan county on July 26, 2022. (SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

“I want to turn the Taiwan Strait into an unmanned hellscape using a number of classified capabilities,” Paparo told Rogin. “So that I can make [PLAN’s] lives utterly miserable for a month, which buys me the time for the rest of everything.” 
 
“Classified capabilities” means we can’t know the details or even the outline of the details. But Paparo did add “I can’t tell you what’s in” the plan to stop the Chinese military.  
 
“But,” he added, “it’s real and it’s deliverable.” 
 
On Wednesday’s program I suggested to Florida Republican Congressman Michael Waltz, who sits on the House Armed Services, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committee, that he and his colleagues invite Alex Karp of Palantir, Palmer Luckey of Anduril, Brett Granberg of Vannevar and Joe Lonsdale of Epirus, etc., to testify to one of his committees on how to rapidly move to the acquisition and deployment of the sort of “hellscape” weaponry that can empower our military to deter China from deciding about a move on Taiwan like Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasions of Ukraine under both President Barack Obama and again under President Joe Biden.  

Deterrence failed in both those cases. Why would we think China is deterred when Putin wasn’t and China has a military significantly more powerful than Russia’s? 
 
Perhaps because the 90 miles or more of rough water separating China from Taiwan is just too difficult a leap to make? Perhaps because Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is going to get blown up the moment the PLA starts crossing the red line? (“TSMC” is a Taiwan-based company that leads the world in the production of the semiconductors we need for our daily lives.)  

Perhaps because Xi suspects there are people on his Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party looking for a “Khrushchev moment.” (Nikita Khrushchev was toppled as head of the Soviet Communist Party in 1964 by his “colleagues” on the USSR’s Politburo. It happens in totalitarian states.) If Xi decides to fly too close to the sun, will his colleagues act against him before he risks WWIII? 

China President Xi Jinping

China’s President Xi Jinping might be taking a big risk by attacking neighboring Taiwan. Political opponents could move against him. FILE: gives a speech during the welcome banquet for leaders attending the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 26, 2019. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

We don’t know, but using a hearing with CEOs of our some of our most advanced tech companies is one way to educate Congress and by extension the public of what we need when it comes to weapons systems and when we need them without giving away the details of what we already have.  

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Suggestion: Pick up Jack Carr’s new thriller “Red Sky Mourning” to get a glimpse of what the future of warfare is. As Admiral James Stavridis (USN, Ret.) and James Ackerman did in their pair of thrillers “2034” and “2054,” Carr uses the thriller genre to convey through fiction what is the reality of superpower competition and possible conflict with China is today. As John le Carré and Tom Clancy did for reading Americans, thriller writers like these are now trying to do vis-a-vis China’s ambitions and its leadership and its Communist Party spy network. 
 
Most Americans don’t read think tank reports. More do read columns like Rogin’s. The threat and the stuff needed to deter it is in the public domain. I get this public domain stuff flagged for me because of friends and family in Congress, the military and tech.  

“I want to turn the Taiwan Strait into an unmanned hellscape using a number of classified capabilities,” Paparo told Rogin. “So that I can make [PLAN’s] lives utterly miserable for a month, which buys me the time for the rest of everything.” 

I book Carr, Stavridis, Ackerman, Daniel Silva, Brad Thor, C.J. Box and other thriller writers not because they are friends though some are, but because “shock and awe” is a risk for us as well as our enemies and they write about these risks in accessible and entertaining ways.  

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The more that senior military figures like Paparo and figures in the intelligence and tech communities join the thriller writers in spelling out the scenarios for the public through responsible outlets and the more Congress throws the spotlight on our most powerful enemies, the better off every American is.  
 
More from the senior brass, please. And soon. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM HUGH HEWITT

Hugh Hewitt is host of “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” heard weekday mornings 6am to 9am ET on the Salem Radio Network, and simulcast on Salem News Channel. Hugh wakes up America on over 400 affiliates nationwide, and on all the streaming platforms where SNC can be seen. He is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel’s news roundtable hosted by Brett Baier weekdays at 6pm ET. A son of Ohio and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, Hewitt has been a Professor of Law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since 1996 where he teaches Constitutional Law. Hewitt launched his eponymous radio show from Los Angeles in 1990.  Hewitt has frequently appeared on every major national news television network, hosted television shows for PBS and MSNBC, written for every major American paper, has authored a dozen books and moderated a score of Republican candidate debates, most recently the November 2023 Republican presidential debate in Miami and four Republican presidential debates in the 2015-16 cycle. Hewitt focuses his radio show and his column on the Constitution, national security, American politics and the Cleveland Browns and Guardians. Hewitt has interviewed tens of thousands of guests from Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump over his 40 years in broadcast, and this column previews the lead story that will drive his radio/ TV show today.

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